Should Restaurants and Airlines Ban Babies?

July 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm Leave a comment

Should businesses such as airlines and restaurants be allowed to ban children?

Malaysia Air has a new policy of banning babies in the first class.  A few restaurants have made the news for banning children, including McDain’s in PA, which will not seat patrons under age 6.

To me, if a restaurant wants to limit its clientele, and potentially lose customers, I’m fine with that.  I actually appreciate knowing where I stand and what the expectations are at a specific establishment.  If they don’t want children in the restaurant, I will find a different restaurant to bring my little guy to.  There are plenty of family-friendly restaurants, and we are happy to eat at 5:00 to get out of a nicer place before the serious diners arrive.  Heck, we could even open our own family-friendly place if the urge ever struck (It won’t.  I’ve seen too many Kitchen Nightmares to ever want to run a restaurant.)

But to me, an airline is a little bit different than a restaurant.  For one, I can’t open an airline.  I’m not allowed to just buy a jet and start flying the family-friendly skies.  Airlines are subject to lots more regulation than restaurants and there’s only so much airspace.  So in general, the airline shouldn’t have quite as much wiggle-room to discriminate against customers and should not be able to ban children from flights.

But this issue is not about banning babies from flights all together.  It’s about restricting them from being seated in first class. First class is an exclusive club, and those customers pay a premium to sit up there with the warm towels and fresh baked cookies.  (I got upgraded for free once and still treasure the memory each time I am crammed into steerage.)

If I were privileged enough to enjoy first class all the time, a screaming baby would dampen my spirits; I would probably just put on some noise-canceling headphones and let the annoyance melt away.

But I’m not a first class customer.  I don’t travel thousands of miles a week for work.  I don’t take the red eye and expect to be rested enough after it to participate in a high-stakes meeting. But I get where the complaints are coming from.  It must be annoying for a First Class Citizen to work so hard to escape the hoi polloi only to be seated next to a rugrat.  So I remind myself, without first class and business travelers, my cheapo tickets probably wouldn’t be so cheap.  So I’ll allow them to subsidize my flight and keep my drooling rugrat in coach.

What do you think?  Should businesses such as restaurants and airlines place restrictions on children?  Would you support a business that had such a policy?

Image: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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